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Back in 2005, Monolith Games, a studio known for it’s atmospheric and creepy first person shooters, released what many consider to be it’s magnum opus,F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon). It was and still is one of the best first person shooters of our time, with great graphics, atmosphere, and gameplay. It received numerous accolades and praise from critics and players alike. 4 years later, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin was released, with similar expectations. This time, however, the critical and player reception was far more divided. Nevertheless, it was still considered an enjoyable first person shooter. Now, in 2011, the F.E.A.R. license has passed over to Day 1 Studios, the company behind games such as Fracture and MechAssault 2. It’s also worth mentioning that they were responsible for the ports of the original F.E.A.R. to consoles. With Day 1 Studios creating F.E.A.R. 3, there’s definitely some differences between previous F.E.A.R. games and F.E.A.R. 3.
The most notable change in F.E.A.R. 3 is it’s shift of focus from single-player to co-op. Before, you always played as a solitary member of a F.E.A.R. squad, with slow motion reflex abilities and martial arts at your disposal. In F.E.A.R. 3, one of the two possible players is the protagonist from the first F.E.A.R., Point Man. He still has all of his old tricks, with powerful firearms, the ability to go into bullet time, and martial arts. The other possible player, though, is the ghost of Paxton Fettel. He has a different skill set than Point Man, with no martial arts to speak of. On the plus side, he can possess enemy soldiers to obtain their weapons, and see through walls. Fettel can also notice tactical advantages in the environment and act on them, unlike Point Man. In one case, in a malfunctioning transformer field with electricity hazards everywhere, Fettel can turn these electric hazards off to help Point Man. Fettel does have less health than Point Man, so he’s the choice for more tactical players, or those who don’t want to wantonly shoot everything in sight at all times like Point Man. The co-op offers different scenarios than the average first person shooter, with one sequence having Point Man in a mech suit and Fettel on the ground.
If you’re familiar with the original F.E.A.R.’s story, you may be scratching your head right now, since Paxton Fettel was the antagonist in the first game, and he didn’t exactly have a happy ending. Now he’s assisting Point Man as a ghost, since Alma is in her pregnancy due to the events in F.E.A.R. 2. The child that Alma may give birth to is presumably another god among men such as Point Man, so there’s reason to be worried for the rest of the world. According to Warner Brothers, this is Alma’s “final bid” for the destruction of mankind, so expect some setpiece moments to be derived from that. The story is also different depending on which character you’re playing as in co-op, so it increases the replay value twofold.
Besides the shift from single-player to co-op, there’s also the change in the gameplay. The first two F.E.A.R. games were very fast paced shooters, with accurate, fast, and powerful weapons. The slow motion slowed the games down to about a quarter of their normal speed, making it incredibly effective. In F.E.A.R. 3, the slow motion is far less powerful, with less duration and less slow down, if only to balance the gameplay for co-op. The normal game speed has also been slowed down, with slower and heavier weapons which include a sniper, submachine gun, assault rifle, pistol, rocket launcher, and other shooter standards. The movement is looser than the first F.E.A.R. games, and the health is now regenerative rather than static, so the game now resembles something more akin to Killzone 2. Day 1 Studios, the developers of F.E.A.R. 3, have also changed the mech combat from F.E.A.R. 2 a bit, with a cleaner UI and lock on missiles. The mechs now go through some more interesting locations too, like a suburban housing complex, letting you smash through walls with your mech.
F.E.A.R. 3 is being released for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC on May 24th, 2011. The Collector’s Edition will feature a pregnant Alma figurine, so if you need more F.E.A.R. collector items, you can get them. There are pre-order incentives as well, with in game weapons, and a 12-page comic. This is all exclusive to certain retailers, though. If Day 1 Studios treats the license with care, F.E.A.R. 3 could be one of the more unique shooters this year.